Name: The Ballad Singer
Developer: Curtel Games
Publisher: Curtel Games
Reviewed on: PC
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose
Some people love to play Dungeons and Dragons in their free time, making decisions that could spell either heroism, villainy or death for their character. Some like to read fantasy novels, following an already established character down their path. For both of these, there’s The Ballad Singer.
The Ballad Singer is all about the story, following four different points of view through a storyline that changes according to the player’s choices. The amount of branching paths alone is insane, as the choices you make will affect not only the character you’re currently playing as but also future characters. If you die, you will continue as another character, but having your character survive doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods. Some choices can have snowballing effects, causing you to reluctantly press forward, derailing yourself further and further from your main goal until you’ve lost sight of it entirely. Such was the case of my playthrough of Ancoran, one of the four main playable characters. Without spoiling too much, my desire to assist the sylphs may have screwed them over entirely, and I felt each choice and its consequences weigh on me as I played. That’s when you know you’ve really nailed it with a choice-based game such as this.
Graphics-wise, The Ballad Singer is fairly simple in that it has no amazing models or anything of that sort. What it does have are very nice, scenic illustrations, as well as a super smooth interface. It’s playable on most computers, and ran smoothly and pleasantly even on my dare I say not a very good laptop! Not a whole lot to nitpick here from how simple and straightforward the graphics are, but is that really a bad thing?
Needless to say, a visual novel such as this won’t have any riveting real-time action, so if you’re looking for dynamic button pressing action, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. There’s not really much to say about the gameplay, you read and/or listen to the story, look at the options and select the one you deem the best for the situation at hand, then rinse and repeat. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, fitting best for people who don’t mind taking their time with each page of the story. Still, it does what it does well within its genre.
I also have a bit of a nitpick with the voice acting, which seems to go fairly slowly, but that might be because a lot of people tend to read faster than the narrating speed. This can cause some (a non-incriminating cough) to grow impatient and skipping ahead, either by skipping ahead 10 seconds or just reading without sound. Both can lead to skipping important information, which can hurt when the time comes to make a decision.
Again, not much to say about the controls. Everything is controlled with the cursor, whether it is to select an action or save your game, or going back to a previous save. That’s… pretty much it for controls? Not much positive or negative that I can really add here.
With so many different outcomes, you’ve got yourself a goldmine for the curious reader. This is very much a case of the varying story, not varying gameplay, and if you can get behind that, then The Ballad Singer just keeps on giving. Heck, I found myself wanting to replay just one segment to see what has happened down that particular different path!
Story - 10/10
Graphics - 9/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Controls - 8/10
Replay Value - 9/10
The Ballad Singer is more of an interactive novel than anything, where you get to decide the progression! It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if it’s yours, then you can look forward to a rich, spicy chai of choices!
- Visually pleasing
- Ever-branching story
- I personally felt each choice
- Low-budget computer friendly
- Slow pace
- Can get repetitive/tedious